You need to start with a schedule.
Want to see an example of a homeschool schedule?
I recently posted about our homeschool schedule right here.
It’s written in Excel and broken down in 30 minute time increments. I even color-coded it according to which child was doing what every 30 minutes.
Creating it was quite a headache. I started out with a draft on notebook paper and erased and rearranged for several days. Then I finally typed out the final copy and made a million more edits. Then I added the colors and printed it out.
This schedule will last us a few weeks and then I know I’ll have to tweak and make a few changes as we learn what works for our new school year.
But my schedule is mandatory! I absolutely must have it!
It shows me that all my subjects do in fact fit somewhere during my day. It helps me see where to add in some play time. It helps me know what everyone is doing so I can rotate between everyone. It ensures that no one is forgotten during the school day. It shows me if I’m over planning or if I need to be more realistic with my time.
My schedule helps me see the big picture of my day.
However, some of you might picture a school building with a loud bell that rings for every class change. No, that’s not how my schedule works. I don’t ding a bell every 30 minutes so we can rush to a new activity.
My schedule is simply a guide.
I use it to help me know what comes next.
I like the time increments because I’ve discovered that 30 minutes is enough time to spend on one subject. Once that time is up, I find a reasonable stopping point in our lesson and we move to the next thing.
This is very important for my young children. It saves us much frustration knowing that after a dedicated 30 minutes, it is time for a change. With our schedule, no one gets bored and everyone gets some time with me.
We start our school year with a schedule that is rather strict. But by the end of the year our schedule has become our routine.
All the work I put into fitting everything into our day, spacing out play times, and dividing the younger children between older siblings pays off. We find our rhythm and our days have a predictable flow. Everyone knows what to expect and they know what comes next.
Each day has a familiar routine. I don’t look at the clock anymore, I just move from subject to subject and switch between children. Amazingly, we stay relatively close to our 30 minute schedule because that’s just enough time to get the work done in each subject.
So, should you have a schedule or a routine?
It’s really up to you, however; I think you should have a little of both. Start with a schedule and let it evolve into a routine.
Whatever you decide, I do highly recommend having some type of plan before you tackle your school year.
For us, I need the structure of a rigid schedule so that I know every child has time with me and that every subject has a place in our day. As our schedule slowly transitions into more of a routine, we are comfortable in our school year and have found our schedule to become habit.
As my children are older, we may begin with more of a planned routine than a schedule. It will only be when I know their attention span can last for more than 30 minutes on one subject, when I don’t have to worry about destructive toddlers, when I don’t have to plan around naptime, and when I feel my kids are ready to be more independent learners.
Until then, we stick to our rigid schedule until it becomes routine.
So what should you have for your homeschool day?
I recommend writing out a schedule and tweaking it until you find that it becomes habit – it will soon become a routine.
That’s one of the secrets to having an efficient homeschool – creating functional routines. And I believe that those routines start with a homeschool schedule.
Schedule vs. Routine – They are both equally important for your homeschool day. A schedule is the first step to finding a working routine. And a working routine is key to having a relaxed and well-run homeschool day.
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